AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Monday nominated the deputy chief of the Maine State Police to replace the chief, who announced his retirement last week after learning he wouldn’t be reappointed.

Public Safety Commissioner John Morris recommended Lt. Col. Robert Williams for the position, and LePage endorsed the selection, according to a news release from the Department of Public Safety.

Col. Patrick Fleming, who was chief for the past four years, wrote in an email April 1 to public safety department employees that he had “been informed by Commissioner Morris that the decision has been made not to reappoint me” and, because of that, he would retire on May 1.

State Police spokesman Steve McCausland said Monday that Morris made that decision.

Gov. John Baldacci nominated Fleming as chief in 2007, and Fleming selected Williams as his second in command, Williams said Monday.

Fleming, 48, and Williams, 47, attended the Maine Criminal Justice Academy together. Both joined the Maine State Police in 1984 as troopers out of the Skowhegan barracks.

Their careers diverged when Fleming was promoted to detective and assigned to the Executive Protection Unit in 1993 to protect then-Gov. John McKernan.

Williams worked as a trooper, then a patrol sergeant, in Somerset and Kennebec counties until 1998, when he was promoted to lieutenant to oversee the regional dispatch centers in Gray, Augusta, Houlton and Orono. Two years later, he became one of two majors in the department and oversaw operations and support services.

Morris said in a press release that Williams has “overseen every aspect of the department from the troopers on patrol, the dispatchers who answer the calls, the technology essential in today’s law enforcement world and the department’s budget and funding sources.”

Asked Monday why Williams should replace Fleming, Morris said: “I appreciate Pat’s service to the state and his last four years as colonel. There are others in the agency who can lead the agency, and Robert Williams is my choice.” He declined to elaborate further.

The Legislature’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee in the next few weeks will hold a public hearing on the nomination, which eventually would be voted on by the Senate.

Williams grew up in Pittsfield, where his father was a police officer in the 1970s. He graduated from Maine Central Institute and has associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from University of Maine at Augusta and a master’s degree in administration of justice from Husson University. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.

Williams is a volunteer firefighter in Vassalboro, where he lives with his wife, Joyce. They have 17- and 20-year-old daughters.

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